How to… Avoid being fired at work

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Some said it wouldn’t affect the UAE, but the global financial problems are seeing companies here cut their costs. Here’s how to improve your chances of avoiding the swinging axe

Don’t give them a clear reason – Often, when a recession hits, management use it as an excuse to get rid of the staff they never thought were up to much cop in the first place. And they’re often looking for reasons. While it would seem logical to sack the I.T. guy who takes a month to fix the printer, offices don’t actually work like this. However, giving the printer the kicking it so richly deserves while screaming ‘how you like me now bitch?!’ can get you fired. Keep calm and maintain a low profile as best you can, unless you have something positive to shout about, and then use that to draw attention to yourself, not your ongoing feud with the Cannon 950. That evil swine will get its comeuppance in due course.

Get along like you give a damn – There’s never anything to be gained by being difficult, annoying and hard to get along with at work. The odds are, you work in an office and you’re not a tortured, misunderstood artist too precious to be bothered by the hoi poli. Few people will stick up for you if you act like a diva (even if it’s clearly not your turn to make the tea) and bosses might see it as a reason to get rid of you. This includes everything from having a loud irritating ring tone on your mobile phone to heavily sighing and going off in a strop when co-workers ask you to help. Now is the time to be everyone’s friend, because it’s harder for bosses to lay off the person everyone likes and gets on with.

Demonstrate value – If you work in a position such as sales, you’ll be judged by the hard numbers, but the worth of other jobs is hard to ascertain — especially if you suspect your boss has no idea how much work is required to do what it is you do. Often, management only see the end result and don’t realise that seemingly simple things require time and patience. Illustrate how you contribute to the success of the company. If you’re working late again, the odds are, your boss won’t be there to see this so send them an email just before you leave late at night telling them where they can find all the work saved on the server. There’s nothing wrong with reminding people that you are working hard for them.

The 80/20 rule – Some 20 per cent of your efforts account for 80 per cent of the results — focus on that 20 per cent. Make a list of all the things you have to do that day/ week/month and identify the 20 per cent that are really going to make a difference. Sometimes you can spend hours on something that is not essential or makes little difference overall, when that time could be spent focusing on the parts of your job that make a difference in the company. Try not to let the time consuming parts of the job (that yield little results) distract you from the things that matter, because the more of the essential things you do, the more essential you become to the company that employs you.

Support their goals – It’s well worth remembering that your boss probably has a boss leaning on him too as all organisations are likes a tree of monkeys (Google it), so try to make your immediate manager’s life easier. The more you can do to ease their workload, the more they will come to rely on your input. You get to be their ‘go to guy’ and when they’re ordered to get rid of some staff they realise how much tougher their life you be if you weren’t there.

Don’t suck up – Ultimately, it’s a job, it’s not your life at stake. Nobody likes a suck up and your boss won’t respect you if you do. Plus, every company already has the person who plays the Mr Smithers role so regularly that it’s hard to see when they end and the boss actually begins. You can’t compete with this person as they’ve already been perfecting the art for years – how else do you think they got their own office despite doing a job the work experience kid considered too menial to bother with? Just be honest, be polite and try not to laugh at your boss when they suggest something stupid.

Find a specialist skill – The jack of all trades is a valuable commodity in this climate as they can be given other people’s work to do after that person gets made redundant. But even more valuable is the guy who can do something essential that few others can. If you’re the person with all the contacts, or the only one who knows how to use a computer program or even just the one who knows how systems work then often it’s easier and cheaper to keep you then to hire and train someone new. Show the boss that you have skills nobody else does.

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